As UN Security Council president, US plans to focus on Russia’s war in Ukraine and rising food prices: NPR

The US plans to use the Security Council presidency this month to keep food security in the spotlight as Russia’s war in Ukraine has ripple effects on global food markets.



ARI SHAPIRO, GUEST:

This month, the United States presides over the United Nations Security Council. It intends to keep the spotlight on Russia’s war in Ukraine, but also to address something that concerns many countries around the world – how the war affects the price of food. That reports NPR’s Michele Kelemen.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Even countries that don’t want to criticize Russia’s war in Ukraine are concerned about the ripple effects. So the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, plans to focus on that.

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LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Ukraine used to be a breadbasket for the developing world. But since Russia blocked crucial ports and destroyed civilian infrastructure and grain silos, desperate famines in Africa and the Middle East have become even more dire.

KELEMEN: She set out the US priorities at the UN today. Anjali Dayal, a UN watcher who teaches international politics at Fordham University, says this focus makes sense.

ANJALI DAYAL: Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the World Food Program and the FAO noted that this was likely to be the most food-insecure year globally.

KELEMEN: Dayal says much of the world depends on food, fertilizers and agricultural supplies coming from Russia and Ukraine.

DAYAL: The war in Ukraine, essentially – that’s a crisis that the most vulnerable people in the world will pay for with lost calories and lost agricultural production.

KELEMEN: And the US should be seen as doing something about it, says Richard Gowan, who follows the UN for the International Crisis Group.

RICHARD GOWAN: The main goal of the US is to show that it is the great power that can control the global food crisis, and it will not be China or Russia that takes the lead in dealing with these global shocks.

KELEMEN: The US also wants to keep putting pressure on Russia. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says she has had some success in the Security Council in that regard.

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THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Russia is isolated in the Security Council. And every time we have a discussion in the Security Council about Russia, they go on the defensive. And we will keep them on the defensive until they end their brutal attack on the Ukrainian people.

KELEMEN: But in the General Assembly many countries abstained from voting condemning the Russian war. Thomas-Greenfield says she spent a lot of time talking to African diplomats to reassure them that this is not a war between the US and Russia. She says this is about one country, Russia, violating the UN Charter. International Crisis Group’s Gowan Says US Has Balancing Act At UN

GOWAN: It’s a place where the great powers can come, even during periods of intense crisis, to try and talk about their remaining common interests. And the US is trying to combine pressure on Russia at the UN with finding minimum agreement on other concerns, be it Libya or Somalia.

KELEMEN: The Security Council debate on global food security is scheduled for May 19. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, State Department.

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